Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
A church, even of five hundred, represented by eleven unknown and inexperienced workmen, looked a very poor engine with which to convert the world, but the least thing became a mighty thing in the service of a mighty agent.
I. The first point to be considered in this great charter of missionary enterprize was THAT THE CHURCH'S MISSIONARY WORK REPOSED UPON CHRIST'S ELEVATION TO SUPREME COMMAND.
1. On the eve of His mortal shame, when His feelings seemed to lie at the lowest, He still knew that the Father had given all things into His hands; and after the resurrection, within a few days of His ascension, He claimed it as a gift given to His crowned mediatorship — all power in heaven and in earth. The sphere in which He had been thus constituted rightful Master was the whole universe; as stated by the eloquent apostle, it extended " far above all principalities, and powers," etc. It is on this universal range of lawful control held now by Jesus in virtue of His office, that the world-wide missionary activity of His Church depends. Christ's rule was the basis of their mission. It was only when He was on the point of ascending to the throne above the heavens that He revoked His former restriction, which was, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not;" but now, in the room of that revoked restriction, He issued His commission to His ambassadors in the widest terms, "Go ye now and convert all the nations." This gave the legal authorization to their missionary enterprize, justifying the missionary in setting aside the edicts of magistrates, and braving their threats of persecution.
2. What was the work to which Jesus committed His Church in this authoritative fashion? The word translated "teach" in the text would read better "disciple"; the apostles were to be the representation to other men in other lands of that same spiritual process which had passed upon themselves. The two processes which made up conversion were discriminated as baptizing and teaching. Christ first brought His disciples to that point at which they were willing to accept Him by a public profession and a symbolic sacrament, and then built up their Christian life in knowledge and service. What he had done for them He desired them to do for others. To do the work of baptizing and teaching required a combination of qualities which were very rarely blended in a single character. It was necessary to combine enthusiasm with patience, faith with labour; the former for the first, the latter for the second, stage in the Christianizing process. In the glorious warfare in which we are engaged there is room for every temperament. All are soldiers.
II. THE CHURCH'S MISSIONARY SUCCESS DEPENDS UPON THE SPIRITUAL SUPPORT AND PRESENCE OF THE LORD JESUS.
1. The results of mission labour ought to be less discouraging than they sometimes seem to be. The friends of missions are too prone to credit the disparaging representations made by their enemies. They speak of this great enterprize, more than they need do, in a tone of apology.
2. We are living near the beginning of what might be called the third great missionary era — and what might prove to be the last age of Christian propagandism.
3. The conversion of the world is the task for which the Church of this country has girt itself. Much has already been accomplished, and on the ground of natural likelihood alone — to say nothing at all of Divine promises-the conversion of the world to Christianity began to appear to the candid eye of an onlooker but a mere question of time.
4. The promised presence of Christ has not failed.
5. Let us throw ourselves with new heart and soul into this most cheering and hopeful of all enterprizes.
(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: